A SHORTAGE of teachers and an increasingly narrow curriculum has 'practically eradicated' technical education — and the closure of the Isle of Wight Studio School will only make it worse, a leading union has warned.

Following the publication of a report on STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education by the parliamentary public accounts committee, which raised concerns about the lack of students choosing technical subjects, the National Education Union said the problems were entirely of the government's own making.

Joint local secretary for the Isle of Wight, Peter Shreeve, said: "The increasingly narrow and academic school curriculum, alongside performance measures, have resulted in pre-16 technical education being practically eradicated. This has had the effect of a reduced pipeline to post-16.

"A shortage of STEM subject teachers is a serious problem and government urgently needs to address the recruitment and retention crisis. The only way to do this is to make teaching an attractive career option, by reducing the unmanageable hours worked and paying all staff a fair wage for the vital work they do.

"The Studio School closure is confirmed for 2019. More vocational courses could be offered at Cowes Enterprise College as it seeks to forge closer ties with local industry — but this can only be achieved if facilities and equipment are available and staff receive high quality training to deliver them."

Mr Shreeve raised further concerns about academy chains running Isle of Wight schools, after the education policy institute thinktank recommended local authorities should be able to take over schools struggling as academies.

In the wake of the Isle of Wight Council taking charge of Sandown Bay Academy from the Academies Enterprise Trust, following a public outcry over its closure plans, he said: "Communities have seen too often their local schools taken over by unaccountable, unsatisfactory and even negligent academy chains.

"This report is the final nail in the coffin of the idea that coercing schools into academy status has been worth it, either financially or in terms of improving outcomes. Huge sums have been spent on the programme — £745 million on converting maintained schools to academies, not to mention the vastly inflated salaries of academy chief executives — and it has not delivered.

"It’s time for a proper debate on what we want from our schools system."